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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Brothers' War - Chapter 32



Argoth's last stand.


Chapter 32 - The Road to Apocalypse

Titania was true to her word, and Harbin made it back to friendly territory with no further incidents. For good or ill, the contrast was shocking at how much the land already looked like Argive. And as soon as Harbin and his pilots set foot off of true Argoth, elven cries fill the air. They run.


...Caves of Koilos...

Over the years, the Brotherhood of Gix helped to repair the su-chi within the cavern, and Gix had learned to control them. On his command, two of them battle it out, one with a chain, the other with a club made of from a previously beaten su-chi. Watching them fight would normally just be a matter of studying the interaction of forces, but with his claws in the skull of one of his priests, watching through the eyes of a human added a whole new level of experience to the whole thing.

The two are battle it out, and the chain-weilder wins out in the end. Gix gets up and knocks it over and watches it fall apart. The robots were mindless, easily manipulated, and relentless. Just like the brothers. In the end one would fall and the other would be left vulnerable enough for Gix to strike.


...Mishra's camp...

Gwenna knows Titania is dying. Each blow to the land is a blow to her, it is said that she has retreated to prepare for the final assault, but Gwenna does not believe believe she will be seen again.

Then the red-haired woman appeared and offered them an opportunity to strike at the invaders on their homeland. Gwenna gathered what elves that would join her and they followed the red-haired woman and the old man back to their ships. She watches as the man and woman have a private conversation and watches if the two had been lovers and were saying their last goodbyes. It was an appealing thought.

Harjar says that the plan is risky, but Ashnod tells him that Mishra will be delighted when he succeeds. They must cut off the supply line. She will tell Mishra that it was her plan, and that he only agreed to it to make sure things went well. Hajar smiles and tells her that her way of thinking as been missed. She thinks like a man. Ashnod manages to not strike him down and take it as the compliment that it is meant to be. She watches the boats leave and wonders if Mishra will even ever notice that both the boats and Hajar are gone.


...Urza's camp...

Harbin is angry that he's being sent away, but both he and Tawnos know Urza is right. The elves are raiding the coasts and need to be stopped. Harbin said he wanted to be a leader and he can't just change his mind because he wants to stay by his father's side.

Tawnos shows Harbin a metal box that reminds him of a coffin , and the Master Scholar explains that he adapted the healing amulet technology with that of Ashnod's staffs to create this. He doesn't believe that Urza has it in him to kill his brother, but he also can't allow him to live. This device is the solution. It will keep the person inside in stasis until its power stones run out of energy or until the lid is opened. Harbin is amazed at how Tawnos is now coming up with answers to questions that no one has yet asked.

Tawnos then hands Harbin a prototype wand that he says will help ward the user from mechanical devices, such as any transmogrants he might run into, but Harbin refuses. Tawnos will likely have more need of it.

Harbin tells Tawnos he knows he has to leave, and he asks Tawnos to look after his father.

"When we parted, he said something that's bothered me. He said 'Tell your mother to remember me as I tried to be, not as I was.' He doesn't think he's going to live through this."

Harbin says he'll be back one the elven marauders are taken care of.


...Mishra's camp...

Mishra never asked about Hajar and the ships and instead pushed on into the forest like an unrelenting machine. When she was finally summoned to court, Mishra wanted straight answers from her with no elaborations. He knows she's been talking to the natives. Some of them are headed towards Urza's camp and are two days away.

"Do you believe that they could defeat my brother's forces?"

Ashnod looked at Mishra, but his brows were in shadow, and she could not see his eyes. "No," she said simply, "I don't think they could."

"But they could weaken him," said Mishra.

"Yes," said Ashnod. "What is this about?"

Mishra's head snapped up, and Ashnod saw the fire in the man's eyes. "Urza's main position is seven days away. There is a force of Elves heading toward it, which is two days away from arriving. If the elves reach my brother first, they may weaken him sufficiently, allowing me to crush him completely. Your thoughts?"

"Urza has many machines on his side," began Ashnod, but stopped as Mishra's scowl grew deeper. "Yes. If the elves attack Urza first, then he will be weakened. But he would win any direct battle with the natives."

She is dismissed when she brings up the idea of helping to draw up plans because he says they've already been drawn up.

That night, the Brotherhood of Gix put on a giant celebration and it crosses Ashnod's mind to attempt to contact Mishra then but that's just wishful thinking. No doubt they had at least one guard with him. She takes a look at the sylex and with such power in her hands she refuses to have no role in the coming battle. Ashnod pulls out some parchment and begins writing a letter to an old friend.


...Urza's camp...

Tawnos feels pity for the elves. For every machine they destroy, thirty elves fall. With avengers, sentinels, tetravi, tirskelions, Yotian soldiers, and statues of primal clay, they cannot be beaten by mere elves, centaurs, pixies, and treefolk. Even with a gigantic being made of the forest and mountain  of Argoth itself came to face them, Urza unleashed his giant being of his own. The last project created for them in Sardia before they had learned of the dwarves betrayal.

The two beings fought and battered at each other, and in the end Urza's machine splintered the thing of wood and stone and all hope within the forest's forces is lost. The colossus itself is damaged beyond repair, but it had done its job and there are plenty of pieces that can be removed and used for other machines.

After the battle, news arrives that Mishra is only five days away. Urza rejects any suggestion of retreat. Tawnos thinks that Harbin was right. Urza is resigned to battle with his brother one last time and end it once and for all.

Tawnos thought of the date, and said, "If they take five days to get here and attack by the sixth, it will be the last day of the year. Perhaps we can begin the new year with a world at peace, when we win."

"The last day," said Urza softly. "And on the last day, we're equal."


...The Caves of Koilos...

Gix hears the chants of his priests in Argoth and knows that it's time to go. A doorway opens up and he takes one last look around knowing he'll soon return in triumph.

* * *


Epic Battle

The battle against Argoth was fantastic, capped off with the Colossus of Sardia vs Gaea's Avenger. This whole final set up is fantastic actually. Gwenna's story is quite a tragic one, with her losing her homeland and seeking revenge all because of a bit of kindness on her part that bent the rules of her society (All the while maintaining an innocence about her as illustrated by her imagining parting lovers when she observes Ashnod and Hajar). And it's interesting that Mishra essentially has the same plan that Gix has, which was quite effectively illustrated through the use of the battling su-chi.

Gaea was just a distraction. The true final battle is about to begin. Just two short chapters left and an epilogue and the Brothers' War will be over.


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